The “s” Word

Okay. It’s time for me to disclose a few facts that I’ve been hesitant to present as of yet. Facts I’ve chosen not to disclose in order to keep the peace in my reader relationship. BUT my life has turned, my mission twisted, my future fractured — and because the questions I ask are of an entirely different nature today (than they were two years and ten days ago when I started this jolly journey) — I think it’s time for me to present a little personal history and a little future forecast.

What I have to say has to do with the “S” word. A word that, even today, I wince to type out.


The History (as brief as possible):

Baptized and raised Catholic, I attended church every Sunday, knew every hymn and prayer by heart, read passages at mass, and even smoldered candles and presented bibles as an alter-girl. In high school, I re-read the Bible, attended youth group, prayed regularly to GOD, and in between rebellious sprees, went so far as to cancel my senior trip to Mexico in favor of traveling to Hollywood with a mission group to hand out flyers, sing graces on the corners of streets, proclaim my love of the Lord Jesus and all those other niceties of the saving-soul nature. (Ever occur that ol´sol beat a bible once upon a time?!) On this mission trip, I was asked to protest against a Gay Pride march. I refused. And that refusal was the first time I ever questioned the authority in my life called “Religion.”

A few months later, during my first week of college, I approached a boy (that I would date for the next four years) for the first time and asked him if he would like to attend church with me.

“I’m atheist.” he replied. “But I’d love to talk.”

Four years of talk later, after walking the educational isle of life together, we separated. And it wasn’t until then, in his absence, that those four years of his questions and challenges of my faith finally settled. And it was not until I was able to finally ask them FOR myself, TO myself, that I realized that I didn’t believe in anything I was defending.

Well, as you already know, I have an issue with integrity. I do the things I say I’m going to do, I practice being the person I say I am, I only own the titles I have earned or believe in.

But I didn’t believe that a person had to declare their love in a man named Jesus to live a good life. I thought “the rules” as they were presented to me by the Christian doctrine were outdated, poorly interpreted, and misused. I “felt” no trust for the group of old men that presented me with my “facts and faiths” in life. And I didn’t believe ANYONE was going to hell. Hell, I didn’t even believe IN hell. I was suddenly baffled by the little boxes on the application forms that indicated, “Religious Affiliation.”

“Religion does many good things for many good people,” I resolved. “BUT I think I’ll figure out my own rules to life. Thanks!”

And that’s what I’ve been doing to this day. Well wait…not exactly. There was definitely a year or two in there where I was really “PISSED off” about all the “dirty lies” that “that terrible social structure” called The Church had used to “manipulate me” and I quite verbally “denounced” my religious upbringing. Ah yes. I was very angry. Because although I had rejected the religion itself — 18 years of social conditioning are not all that easy to just “shake off.” 18 years of being told that sex (Avert your eyes Mom and Dad!) was BAD, drugs were BAD, people with other beliefs were BAD, and in general…mistakes were BAD — make for a lot of guilt to get over. And honestly, it did take me a few years to overcome all that guilt and forgive a misguided but *hopefully* well-intentioned religion. Regardless, for those few years, I avoided the “G” word as if it stood for Gonorrhea.

But slowly, over time, those wounds healed. With the whole world at my physical and mental fingertips, my mind opened. I was finally able to explore and experiment. I learned, first hand, that sex, drugs, differences and mistakes (and especially learning from them) are all part of the play of life. The guilt may have started as a storm, but the calm in the shade of the sunshine than ensued was worth the bad weather.

And here I am. But I am not here without guides. First there was Paulo Coelho, who did little less than poke a flaming stick at my heart with, “The Alchemist.” And then there was Kahlil Gibran, Tom Robbins, Daniel Quinn, Robert Pirsig, Canstenada, Richard Bach, Depak Chopra, M. Scott Peck, Lama Yeshe, the Dali Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh and a particulary big book published by the Foundation For Inner Peace. And then there were the retreat centers in Guatemala and Australia and the “gurus” and “guides” that told their stories in the huts and temples within. And let me not forget the COUNTLESS conversations on docks, beaches and boats around the world with all the beautiful people I have encountered on my travel path. For many of their worlds have branded their own burning marks on my heart. And perhaps the place where I learned the most about the “G” word was right in the eyes of a child in the Guatemala city dump. And I continue to find my greatest inspirations on the “S” word in the silence of the sunset.

So NOW here I am;

Books on metaphysics responsible for one fourth of the weight in my rucksack.

Looking up at the sky one in every 20 minutes and wondering what the heck it’s all about.

Falling deep into mediation every day.

Waking up in the night and scribbling down dreams too vivid to be unaccounted for.

And about to walk 800 kilometers in a one-month pilgrimage from France across northern Spain.

When I set out my travels I never had intentions of becoming a spiritual-junkie or hippy. And, really, I still don’t think I am…yet. (Although the idea of retreating into a cave for a couple of years is sounding surprisingly appealing…) And my head is still spinning as to how I got here. But to write it out a bit, feels good… feels honest. It’s been my little dirty secret too long…

I’m keen on the world. And I don´t just want to SEE it anymore. I want to know why the hell we’re here.

And I make no claims to being intelligent or inspirational on these matters. I’m just an explorer. And this is my personal medium of expression and discovery.

And thus you have been cautioned…for if you cringe at the mention of the “G” or “S” words, as I did for years, you may want to tune out of for bit. Cause she’s about to enter the capital “S” shady zone friends.

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